Some things in life we get prepped for but navigating mental health is one of those things we don’t get any training for. It may seem dramatic, but psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy literally saved me from a self-destructive path after experiencing a deep loss. Yeah, I know, big words that sound rather confusing but allow me to explain.
Growing up on the fringes of the city, my neighbourhood had the fine balance of rich, middle and lower-class families. I never realized the disparity, to be honest, because we just bunched up together to play each afternoon after school. We were just a group of 5 boys up to no good; playing catch and chasing one another down the block. We formed this brotherhood and promised each other we would grow old together, take care of one another and meet every summer to catch up.
We kept at it during college and our early working years. We tried so hard not to be like those characters in the movies. You know those African American movies we all loved and watched while growing up? We did well, met every summer break and sometimes even during spring breaks. And we tried our hardest to support each other regardless of the distance or ask. If one needed us, all four of us would show up.
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Everything was going according to plan till Joe died a week before his master’s graduation. He was fine one moment and dead the next. No explanation, no sickness that we knew of, no accident – nothing. It was as if we woke up and heard Joe was gone. An autopsy wasn’t done because Joe’s mom did not believe in ‘disrespecting’ her child’s body since her beliefs were against autopsies. She chalked it to fate; he lived the life he was supposed to live, and now he had transitioned beyond.
To say it was hard is an understatement. We didn’t know how to process the death, individually or as a group. I had not felt such depths of grief before, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I wondered; do you just go about your life like nothing happened, or do you recollect all the fond memories you shared? I never really got closure from his death because I didn’t know what the cause of his death was. There was no finality or conclusion; I couldn’t say this or that was the reason my friend left.
I stopped going out, I started drinking, and I became a ghost of myself. Luckily, my brothers saw my struggle and rallied around me. They convinced me to find a therapist in our local church. I was very apprehensive because I did not want to be considered soft or weak. They were relentless; they wouldn’t stop pestering me, so I caved to put an end to their intrusion. I tried convincing them that the therapy won’t work for me and that was when they asked me to research the various types of therapies and whatever I felt most comfortable with, they will find a therapist for me.
With my brother’s support, I found a therapist who helped me navigate my grief. The therapist didn’t force the interactions; he allowed us time to get to know each other and build a friendship. He used a type of therapy I have come to find out is called psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy for my unique case. He engaged me in a series of conversations about things I didn’t even know I was dealing with subconsciously.
The brain is really an amazing thing; trauma from childhood I had been carrying for years were influencing my every decision and action without me even knowing.
I had no idea there were different types of therapy till very recently when my therapist turned friend were having this discussion. I always thought therapy is therapy; you walk in, and the therapist asks questions which you answer. Standard you talk, I talk which I wasn’t really keen on.
I can’t properly explain what the various types of therapies are so I will leave here a link to an article by BetterHelp explaining this in further detail. Your needs are different from mine and what works for you may not work for me, but I am sure you will find in the article something that could help you in your situation.